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IPCC investigation finds BTP officers have no case to answer over station fall death

February 25, 2013, 2:16 pm

Two British Transport Police (BTP) officers have been cleared of any wrongdoing following an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into the handling of a man who died after falling at a railway station.

John Patrick Freeman, 67, died in hospital ten days after falling at Leeds railway station in West Yorkshire on 12 May, 2011.

He had been escorted off a train by two BTP officers after the conductor on a Sheffield to Leeds service called police with concerns about an elderly passenger who appeared to be intoxicated.

The officers helped Mr Freeman, who was from the Barnsley area, away from the platform to a bench on the station concourse, staying with him for about 50 minutes before returning to a control room to monitor him via CCTV. He had by that point refused medical assistance and declined to have a relative informed.

A short time later he left to buy a ticket from a self-service machine where he fell and banged his head. The BTP officers returned and called an ambulance which took Mr Freeman to Leeds General Infirmary, where he was placed on a life support machine. On 22 May, 2011, following medical advice about his deteriorating condition, a decision was made by his family to switch the life support machine off.

Toxicology tests carried out after his death showed Mr Freeman was likely to be more than four times over the UK legal limit for drivers.

An inquest into Mr Freemans death ended at Wakefield Coroners Court on 20 February, 2013. A narrative verdict was recorded.

The IPCC investigation centred on whether the BTP officers acted appropriately during their contact with Mr Freeman.

It found that the BTP officers had explored the limited options available available to them to ensure Mr Freemans welfare, and that neither could have seen that he would fall, bang his head, suffering ultimately fatal injuries.

On that basis, the IPCC found there was no case to answer.

IPCC Commissioner Sarah Green said: “This is a very sad case, and my sympathies go out to Mr Freemans family. We conducted a thorough, independent investigation into police contact with Mr Freeman prior to his death and found that the officers had limited options available to them, and took what steps they could to ensure Mr Freemans welfare.

“Our investigation identified that there was a lack of policies, procedures or reciprocal arrangements with healthcare services to assist officers dealing with someone who was intoxicated but had not committed any offence, and did not require immediate hospital attention. BTP is reviewing its guidance and training for officers to assist them in dealing with such situations in future.”

 
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